If you were not one of the 2 billion people who watched today’s Royal Wedding you missed a truly uplifting event. The celebration of the union of Prince William and the now Princess Catherine marked the first time that a “commoner” married into the royal family since 1660. The future King of England took as his future Queen a young woman whose parents are entrepreneurs and whose ancestors were coal miners. The significance of this union was not lost on the British people.
Hundreds of thousands flocked to the streets in hopes of catching a glimpse of the happy couple. At a time when the country is suffering through very difficult economic times the wedding offered the Brits an opportunity to forget the difficulties of the day and celebrate their heritage and their hope for the future. This was a day for the British people; and they were not disappointed.
As we watched the events unfold we were struck by a couple of things that played out behind the scenes.
The US media coverage in the days leading up to the event was filled with cynicism. Even during the early portions of the day’s coverage sarcasm was commonplace throughout the reporting. We Americans do not understand the fascination with the Royals; and as is typical with all things that are “Non-American” we tend to view them through the prism of inferiority. Today was no exception. But as the day’s events unfolded the tone changed completely. Crazy as it seems, the sarcasm and cynicism gave way to exclamations of joy and happiness as the reporters were genuinely swept up by the moment. Normally stoic journalists were brought to tears. One typically sarcastic talking head was heard to comment over the airwaves: “this is a fairy tale”. While this behavior may not be professional it offers the best example of the mood that swept through all who were there. It was truly a magical event that brought a sense of hope for the future. There is certainly nothing wrong with celebrating that.
The other thing that was striking had nothing to do with the Royal family.
We tend to forget that today a young man was married. This is a young man who tragically lost his mother at a very early age. This is a young man who was forced to grieve that terrible loss under the ever probing eye of the media. A man who along with his brother was forced to build around himself “a circle of trust”; that small group of individuals who he could let in without fear of reprisal. An angry youth, a rebellious teen, a distrustful young adult; this is a man who after a ten year courtship finally found security and comfort in his now and future bride. This is a man not unlike any other; except this young man bears the weight of his country’s expectations on his shoulders.
We watched history being made today. And we as Americans should view these events with respect rather than cynicism. We should join with the Brits in their celebration; for it was not that long ago that we too were subjects of that same monarchy. Nobody does pomp and circumstance like the Brits and they were doing it centuries before anyone landed on Plymouth Rock.
But even if you cannot bring yourself celebrate all things Royal; then celebrate the fact that a fine young man got married today.